By Annie Liebman
The UC Student Association (UCSA), a student lobbyist group, is calling for major changes to the admissions processes to increase diversity on UC campuses.
The UC Regents Diversity Study Group report, a project established by former UC President Robert Dynes in the fall of 2006, was designed to study diversity on UC campuses.
One of the findings in the 10-month study states that the UC’s current method of using SAT scores to determine eligibility for freshman admission is inadequate. The report adds, “the proportion of underrepresented minorities at UCs decreases steadily at each successive level within the academic community.”
At a rally at UC Davis on Sept. 20, UCSA students demanded that a minimum of $33 million should go toward academic preparation programs for the upcoming year. They also called for the Regents to eliminate, or at least decrease, the use of standardized tests like the SAT, and to reexamine eligibility requirements for admission such as the A-G requirements, a set of standards required for high school seniors who want to apply to UC.
Ruel Paul, a coordinator at E-squared, attended the rally and supported the UCSA demands regarding A-G requirements. E-squared is a student-initiated outreach program that is designed to helps students of color succeed at the university. “A lot of schools don’t offer comprehensive A-G requirements,” Paul said. “The opportunity for [students] to succeed is not there.”
UC Regents voted unanimously to accept the Diversity Study Group report. However, Oiyan Poon, president of UCSA, is concerned that the report will not lead to changing diversity on UC campuses.
“I would like to see a proactive recruitment of getting a diverse pool of applicants to apply to UC campuses,” Poon said.
Michael McCawley, director of admission at UCSC, agrees with current UC policy. He said, “The [A-G] requirements are in place so that we can see students succeed in the UC system, and so that they can graduate.” He added that if a student completes the requirements for admission, it shows that the student is ready for the rigorous academics the UC system provides.
According to a report on UC Santa Cruz fall admissions in 2006, 84 African-American students were admitted compared to 1,662 European-Americans. However, an excerpt from the UC Diversity Statement reads, “because the core mission of the University of California is to serve the interests of the State of California, it must seek to achieve diversity among its student bodies.”
Paul emphasized the importance of having a good school support system, particularly for students of color.
“E-squared encourages thinking about higher education,” he said. “We teach students to think critically about their education and how they can succeed and be involved.”
McCawley noted that UCSC offers a variety of outreach programs that are implemented by E-squared to increase diversity on campus.
“[UCSC] has academic outreach programs where [students] go to middle schools and try to create a college-going environment,” he said.
Poon hopes to strengthen and permanently fund student initiated academic preparation programs, like E-squared.
“Diversity has been proven to improve the academic quality of campuses,” she said. “No evidence shows otherwise. California is one of the most diverse states. If you can’t learn to work with your neighbors, who can you work with?”